There is no better example of the good work British Cycling is doing to get more women and girls into the sport than its youth development programme, Go-Ride.
This is supported by a nationwide network of volunteers and support staff, and has a healthy gender split with nearly 40% of participants female.
The Go-Ride team has been hosting women-only sessions throughout the country ever since British Cycling launched its strategy to get one million more women cycling in March last year.
There are a number of Rider Development Sessions for Women and Girls taking place this week in York, Middlesex, Worcestershire, Wolverhampton and Solihull, and it is hoped that the extra sessions will help push the future of the sport into a 50-50 split between male and female participants.
The story of 14-year-old Molly Pattison highlights just what can be achieved when young people dedicate themselves to opportunities in Go-Ride clubs.
Molly got involved with Tiverton BMX Go-Ride club a couple of years ago and got stuck into racing. However, at the beginning of last year, Molly fell ill and was no longer able to ride her bike.
Not to be deterred, Molly got involved with the Cycling Award for Young Volunteers and helped out with all aspects of the club. She has now started her own BMX team, securing funds from sponsors, team kit and an enthusiastic team of 20 riders.
Here is her story.
Molly Pattison’s personal account:
“I was persuaded to get involved with BMX racing by my little brother in 2012. I joined Tiverton BMX Go-Ride Club and I found myself surrounded by lots of racers and families all supporting their children.
“In January 2013, I was taken ill and was diagnosed with acute demyelination, which affected my balance, co-ordination and sensation. I was left with no option – I couldn’t ride.
“It was at that point that I got involved with young volunteering with British Cycling. Doing the Cycling Award for Young Volunteers was a great excuse to get involved in all sorts of roles within the sport.
“Very quickly, I gained respect from other adult helpers at the tracks and was often asked if I could help out with something.
“As the symptoms from my illness started to ease, I was back on my bike, but still not allowed to race. I used this time to work with lots of kids, helping them with basic core skills. This took the pressure off the coaches as I was able to take smaller children aside, whilst they worked on more technical stuff with the older ones.
“So what has volunteering with British Cycling done for me?
“I have completed bronze, silver, gold and platinum young volunteering awards as part of the Cycling Award for Young Volunteers programme and I was selected to represent British Cycling at the National Young Officials Academy in Loughborough in December 2013.
“I’ve used my progress with British Cycling in my college applications, where I plan to study a BTEC in Sports Performance and Excellence and gain a place on the college’s Advance Conditioning for Elite Students Academy. I am also booked to undertake my Level 1 Award in Coaching Cycling in February.
“I’m guessing the most important thing for me, is that it has helped to build my confidence. People do take me seriously; I’m listened to, my voice is heard, and my suggestions are taken on board.
“I’ve now started up my own BMX race team. I’ve raised the money by putting together sponsorship packs and speaking to companies about the sport and the team. I’ve got 20 riders from all over the south west riding for my team, the team shirts are printed, t-shirts printed, gazebo purchased; we are ready to race!”